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Your input is greatly appreciated-Final draft

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Very saddened to say I was denied to all 6 schools I applied to this cycle so, I've started the process in improving every aspect of my application for the next cycle. Below is my personal statement I submitted so if anyone could please offer any suggestions/editing, I would greatly appreciate it!!


At the young age of 19, I could not fathom the life-long journey I was about to begin. As I sat in the hospital bed, staring at my daughter’s rosy cheeks and big brown eyes, overwhelmed with joy and happiness, an unsettling fear started to overshadow my dreams and future aspirations. At that moment, reality struck and brought with it welcomed, yet unyielding, obstacles that I would soon learn to overcome. My fears quickly evolved into empowerment and motivation. I was determined to overcome any obstacle or challenge presented to me as a single mother striving to become a first-generation college graduate. Through focus and hard work, I have earned Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees while simultaneously thriving in my full-time job, coaching youth soccer, and facing the endless challenges of raising my daughter.


From a very young age, I knew that my care-giving instincts would lead me to a career in healthcare. My passion for healthcare has been confirmed over the past seven years while working as a clinician in the physical therapy division of a prestigious rheumatology practice. I have had the opportunity to grow and understand the realities of the medical profession. My experience has taught me the importance of optimism, confidence, and compassion in establishing a strong rapport with my patients; it is only through reducing fears and elevating the optimism of the patient that the plan of care can be successful.


A common thread that weaves together the various aspects of my life is my unrelenting commitment to achieve and exceed any goals that I have established, whether those goals pertain to my aim to successfully nurture and guide my daughter through her early years of life, my drive to eclipse personal bests in each successive charity race that I run, or my endeavor to provide my patients with the highest quality of care. As a competitive marathoner who has consistently placed in the upper tier of runners, I have found that the same drive which compels me to continue running through fatigue and pain is what has also propelled me to achieve my professional and educational objectives thus far. I am confident that this same drive will help me in my pursuit of a career as a physician assistant.


Undoubtedly, my cultural background has been an asset to my practice as a healthcare provider and will continue to be so. Having been raised in a Latino family in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, I am fluent in Spanish and have traveled extensively. As a result, I am able to relate to diverse cultures, beliefs, and practices which has given me a distinct advantage in treatment of those individuals in my current position. This foundation will continue to serve as an asset in my future career as a physician assistant.


While my drive and commitment to achieve career goals have propelled me toward success, they have also, ironically, served to create obstacles in their own right. My dedication to advancing my education, coupled with an ability to multi-task (among my strongest attributes), have sometimes led to my taking on greater responsibility in the form of schooling than time might typically allow, which has presented challenges in time management. Nevertheless, by giving my absolute best, I have always completed my assignments successfully. These experiences have provided valuable lessons and have only served to strengthen my resolve and heighten my confidence in my ability to achieve success in the face of adversity. My strength as a candidate for the physician assistant program lies in my drive and passion to achieve my goals, regardless of the challenges faced.


I will strive to accomplish my goal of becoming a physician assistant because it offers the opportunity of a fulfilling and rewarding career dedicated to helping my fellow human beings. Further, I want to continue to make my daughter proud of her mother by showing her that through hard work, passion, and dedication, one can overcome all obstacles that life presents while still helping others. As I seek to become a skilled physician assistant and an advocate of my profession, I am eager to enroll in a program that will make it possible to unite both my personal and professional goals.

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I'm sorry for your disappointment. I was wondering whether you interviewed with any schools and if you contacted them for feedback on areas of needed improvement. Reading your statement, your story is interesting, but it doesn't give me much insight into who you are and why you want to by a PA. What specifically has drawn you to this field of medicine? What do you hope to contribute as a provider with your patients and in the community? You provide a lot of personal info, but you don't go deep enough into your experiences in healthcare. Since you are only allowed a strict word count in your statement, you need to make sure every word and every sentence counts. It should make the schools want to meet you. This, of course, doesn't mean to fill it with fluff that you think the schools want to hear. When writing your statement remember that you are competing with thousands of applicants. Why should the schools want to have you in their program? I would recommend having maybe 2 or 3 people you know are great writers, and who will be honest with you, to read your statement. Also, professors are great in advising students on this sort of thing. Just a final note, try to avoid redundant statements such as, "At the young age of 19". Nineteen is considered young already, so stating "at the young age of" is redundant. Also, make sure your statement exudes a sense of confidence in yourself (be careful it doesn't come across as arrogant). For example, I would not use the statement, "I will strive to accomplish my goal". Instead, I would type, "I will accomplish my goal". I wish you much luck during the next cycle. I hope this helps.

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I agree with the recommendation made in the earlier post for you to contact admissions directors in the schools you applied to. Admissions directors/faculty set aside time to talk with applicants about why they didn't make the cut and it will be helpful to you to get feedback. It could very well be that your essay was the reason. It's not that it's bad — it's very well written. But it's just not what admissions directors want to see, at least not the dozen or so I interviewed from highly rated schools across the country.


Everyone wants to know: 

1. What you've seen/experienced that tells you this is the right profession instead of something else, like an RN or MD? (How did you learn what the profession is about? Have you shadowed a PA? If so, talk about it).

2. What have you learned from your own healthcare work about patient care? (Use a particular patient or two for examples to demonstrate what you learned as a result of your interactions with them, whether it be compassion, the need to listen, the importance of human contact, or the benefit of talking to family members). Here you also have a great opportunity to show how your cultural background helped you make a difference for a patient. 

3. What traits do you have that will make you a great PA? (This is tied to #2, but can be broader). Don't write a list — use real life examples. 

4. If your academics suffered because you took on too much (I can't really tell from your essay), explain why in a sentence or two. 


Lots of people have children for whom they wish to be good role models. That doesn't set you about from hundreds of other applicants. If you focus on the topics that are listed above, you'll have a unique essay that will make readers think, "Hmm, this is someone I'd like to meet." 


Best of luck.


Sue Edmondson




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This is all great input and very helpful advice.


I have a couple appointments set up for after the New Years with the admissions department of a couple schools so I'm hoping to get more information on what I should focus on to improve my application.


My undergrad GPA: 2.8

Post Bac: 3.5


I know I should continue improving my GPA so I've signed up for an additional Bio and Chem class in the Spring. It wasn't easy working full time, going to school 3/4 time, and taking care of my daughter; as you can see my grades suffered.


I've been a physical therapist assistant for 7.5 years so I have plenty of HCE(~15,000 hours).


I did shadow a couple PAs for a total of 24 hours. Should I try to fit in more shadowing hours?


My references were written by a rheumatologist (known me for 7 years) and 2 different directors of rehabilitation. I would have liked to get one from a professor but none of my professors have known me for more than a semester. Any suggestions on this area?


Any other suggestions to improve my overall application?


Thank you for reading my personal statement and giving me helpful advice!

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Obtaining more shadowing hours is a great idea. I'm not certain how many hours the schools you applied to require, but I would recommend at least 100 hrs. Regarding letters of recommendations, it is extremely important for you to request letters from PA's you have shadowed or work with at your job. Also, take the time to meet your professors. Try to find time to meet with your professors if you're struggling in a course, have questions regarding the class, or questions in regards to applying to PA school. This will  allow them to get to know what kind of a student and person you are. This will make it easier for you to get good recommendations  that have more substance to them besides just focusing on your grades. 

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